First drive: 2023 BMW X7 in California USA

BMW has revamped its X7 SUV, and the key change among its raft of updates is a radical new four-eyed face that brings the jumbo-sized crossover in line with its ultra-luxo siblings (the recently revealed 7 Series/i7 and XM performance SUV). The 2023 BMW X7 is also the first from the German premium brand to be offered with optional XXL 23-inch rims.

In addition, the X7’s cabin has been overhauled, with headline features including BMW’s Curved Display instrumentation panel, plus the optional availability of a six-seat layout with captain’s chairs for the middle row.

We sampled the flagship of the range – the X7 M60i (priced from Dh600k) – at the vehicle’s international media launch in Palm Springs, California. My first impressions are that it generally nails the brief for a high-performance luxo SUV.

Exterior Design 

First things first: let’s get the confronting visuals out of the way. It’s fair to say not everyone will like the four-eyed face (with the headlights clustered separately below the LED daytime running lights), but, to this road tester’s eye, the revamped visage isn’t a deal-breaker. Controversial, it may be, but I can live with it.

The rest of the bodywork is mainly as before, with the only other minor tweak being a repositioned chrome strip on the tailgate, as it’s now tilted upwards to catch the light.

BMW X7 Performance

The M60i’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 thumps out 523 hp and 750Nm and is supplemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid system that helps serve up generous helpings of torque from low revs, endowing the 2600kg SUV with lively off-the-mark acceleration and effortless overtaking urge.

BMW quotes a 0-100 kph split of 4.7 sec and a top speed of 250 kph, and the big SUV feels every bit that quick out in the real world.

Get out onto the highway, and there’s a trace of wind noise from around the A-pillars and door frames once you get past 120kph, but refinement levels are generally in keeping with what you’d expect for a top-end luxury SUV.

Although we didn’t get to drive the entry-level X7 xDrive40i (priced from Dh520,000) at the launch, it’s no slouch either, as its mild hybrid-assisted 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo ekes out 380hp and 540Nm, yielding a 0-100kph dash in 5.8 sec and a top whack of 250kph.

BMW X7 Driving Impressions

All X7 models ride on dual-axle air suspension that BMW claims have been recalibrated to provide the widest spread between ride comfort and sporty handling.

Having covered a variety of roads at the launch, we can confirm that this setup irons out most tarmac imperfections, with only the worst of them being transmitted through to the cabin.

The drive route included a decent stretch of twisties, providing an excellent opportunity to explore the X7’s dynamic envelope.

As mentioned earlier, we were mounted up in the M60i, which comes equipped with active roll stabilisation, four-wheel-steer and an M Sport rear differential.

Despite its 2.6-tonne girth and 1.835 m tall stance, the X7 hustles across this terrain with a decent level of agility.

However, if you push it hard across winding roads, you’ll feel the weight of the vehicle transitioning from side to side and pitching noticeably under heavy braking.

On the whole, the X7 ticks all the requisite boxes – it strikes a good balance between refinement and dynamism, and the vehicle imparts a suitably premium feel.

Interior Features

The most noticeable change inside is the Curved Display – incorporating a 14.9-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster – that sits atop the dashboard, and this makes for a cleaner look than before.

All the infotainment and HVAC functions have been incorporated into the central touchscreen, so the button and knob count have been minimised. Depending on your perspective, this could be a good thing. I prefer having physical knobs/switches to control fan speed and temperature settings.

The other key change is that the gear selector knob has been substituted with a switch, which frees up more space on the centre console.

There are lashings of metallic highlight trim on the doors, dashboard and centre console, and although this is a nice design element, it can dazzle you if the sun is at the wrong angle.

BMW execs say roominess and comfort are hallmarks” of the new X7, and that’s generally true. The front and middle row seats are excellent (especially if you opt for captain’s chairs in the second row), while the extra-long sunroof, which stretches to the third row, makes for ample light in the cabin.

That said, the third-row seats are best left to the junior brigade as head- and legroom is limited. Luggage space is also tight, as you can stash only 326 litres of stuff with all the seats in place.

Although there’s plenty of scope to tick options boxes, the X7’s standard kit level is reasonably generous, as 22-inch rims and full matrix LED headlights are included at no extra cost.

Optional Equipment

You also get BMW Individual Merino Leather upholstery, five-zone climate-control air-conditioning, Comfort Seats, metallic paint, BMW Drive Recorder, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, plus the aforementioned Curved Display.

A six-seater (2+2+2) configuration is a new option, featuring a pair of individual captain’s chairs with foldable armrests in the centre row. In addition, a floor-mounted cupholder is positioned between the two seats, incorporating two USB-C ports and a 12-volt outlet.

In the base model xDrive40i, you can choose from one of two exterior trim packages – Design Pure Excellence and M Sport – with the former configuration featuring a discreet look with Pearl Chrome trim highlights, “Satinated” roof rails and window décor, Ferric Grey 22-inch rims and wood trim inside.

M Sport features

As its name suggests, the M Sport brings a sportier look with gloss-black trim, a bespoke front and rear apron, bicolour double-spoke rims, M-specific pedals and “Fineline Black” metal-effect trim inside.

The M60i flagship gets all the kit that lesser models do, plus standard heating and massage functions for the front seats, heated and cooled front cupholders, M Sport differential, M Sport exhaust system, “Iconic Glow” illuminated kidney grille, Integral Active Steering and Executive Drive Pro (including active roll stabilisation).

Safety Features

Standard safety kit in the X7 includes front, side and curtain airbags, seatbelts with pretensioners, stability and traction control, CBC (Cornering Brake Control), DBC (Dynamic Brake Control), Dry Braking function, fading compensation, drive-off assistant, DSC networked with xDrive all-wheel-drive system, ADB-X (Automatic Differential Brake), HDC (Hill Descent Control), trailer stability control and a tyre-pressure indicator.

New features include the extended range of functions offered by the front-collision warning system, which now reduces the danger of a collision with cyclists, pedestrians or oncoming vehicles.

Also new is the exit warning function, which alerts occupants to a risk of collision when opening the door. The standard Parking Assistant also includes the Reversing Assist Camera and Reversing Assistant.

On cars with the optional Parking Assistant Professional specified, the Reversing Assistant can now take over the task of steering the car for a distance of up to 200 metres.

In addition, the new Manoeuvre Assistant simplifies the task of slotting your car into tight parking spots or tricky, narrow driveways. The system can memorise manoeuvres covering a distance of up to 200 metres each and then carry them out autonomously.

When the vehicle next arrives at a memorised starting point, the Manoeuvre Assistant carries out all the tasks required to complete the manoeuvre, controlling the accelerator, brakes and steering, and changing gears to move forward or in reverse.

BMW X7 Competitors

The X7 is up against capable opposition in the form of Mercedes-Benz’s GLS and Audi’s Q7, not to mention the Range Rover LWB. However, the latter is significantly pricier when similarly equipped.

The big BeeEm holds its own against these rivals thanks to engaging driving dynamics and a premium cabin ambience. It’s a cohesive and well-engineered SUV with no glaring flaws – just as long as that mould-breaking new face isn’t a sticking point for you.

2023 BMW X7 M60i at a glance

Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with a 48-volt mild hybrid system
Power: 530hp at 5500rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 1800-4600rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Kerb weight: 2600kg
0-100kph: 4.7sec
Top speed: 250kph
On sale: Now
Price: From AED 600,000

Keep track of the latest BMW X7 prices in the UAE, KSA & GCC buyer guide.

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